Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grapefruit Marshmallows

I thought I'd take a second try at marshmallows. Last time it was peppermint, this time I wanted to try something citrus. I had red grapefruit in the fridge, so grapefruit marshmallows! I was taking pictures all along, the juice was really pretty, but didn't realize til today even after cutting the marshmallows, that I didn't have a card in the camera - rgh!

Anyway, I used Emeril's Lemon Marshmallows and just subbed grapefruit for anything lemon, and only used a tsp zest. I was hoping they'd be a bit pinker since the juice was so pretty, but the very, very faint pinkish is nice for marshmallows, too. One of the reviews said it only took 3-5 min of beating, so I was careful not to beat too long. My first batch (the peppermint) was really firm, so I tried to be careful, though I think I underestimated this time. They hold, but they're very squishy. Probably closer to what they should be (it took a lot to melt the peppermint in cocoa), but I'd like them a little firmer. The grapefruit flavor is nice, though there's just a hint of bitterness. I think the lemon would be a cleaner flavor.

Next I'm hoping to try either cocoa or espresso cocoa from Talanian's Marshmallows. Though I also saw sweetfineday's cardamom ones when searching for other grapefruit marshmallows. I love cardamom, but haven't really used it much, so I need to try that, too :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Ellecupcake blogged earlier this month about coconut cupcakes adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I was a vegetarian years ago before I was married, but never vegan. Anyway, I got the cookbook from the library. The chocolate mint looked really good, and when my daughter asked for them today, I figured it was a good excuse to try a vegan recipe :) I'll note though that I just used my regular pantry stuff. Honestly, I don't even know how to tell if some stuff is vegan or not. So regular flour, sugar, vanilla, soda, powder, cocoa, and vanilla soymilk (since that's what we had).

I was excited at how easily and quickly these came together, all with a whisk and a fork. Not having to pull out the mixer (stand or hand). Not having to wait for my eggs or butter to be room temp. And not having to worry about disinfecting after eggs was nice, too :).

I would not be able to tell the difference between these (the basic chocolate cupcake) and any other oil-based cupcake. I have no idea how they rise (I'm guessing it has to do with the vinegar and baking soda?), but they have a fine texture. The family loved them.

For the icings, I should have been thinking more than just following the numbers in the recipe. You can see my buttercream is way too thin. I just mixed it up and instead of checking if I needed more powdered sugar, I just put it in the piping bag. I had the same problem with the ganache - it turned out more like Hershey's syrup. The cupcakes looked a little better before the ganache, but not much :)
I still like the idea of the chocolate-mint, and like the mocha one earlier this week, I like the flavored buttercream with a thin layer of dark ganache matched with the chocolate cupcake. I'm sure I'll be making these again!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mocha cupcake

I was inspired by the Milwaukee Cupcake Queen's photo of a Hotcakes Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake.
Mine's not quite as pretty (ha), but these were quite good.

I used a variation of the double layer chocolate cake on epicurious with some egullet revisions.
2oz bittersweet chocolate
1oz unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 c hot brewed coffee
2 1/2 c cake flour
1 1/2 c cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
8 TB butter, melted
Chop chocolate and add to coffee, let stand and mix til melted, add melted butter. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In mixer beat eggs til slightly thickened, add oil, sour cream, vanilla and chocolate/coffee/butter mixture. Beat til combined. Add flour mix and beat til just combined. Bake at 300 for about 20 min(to be honest I didn't keep track of the time very well, this is my best guess).

The chocolate icing is from Dorie Greenspan's baking from her Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes.
3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60%)
2 TB butter
1TB sifted powdered sugar
Basically, melt the chocolate, add the sugar, then add the butter. Frost right away as it starts to set quickly.

The coffee buttercream is a variation of Judy Rosenberg's, which we love.
1 c whipping cream
1 stick butter
1/4 cup plus 2TB powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tsp water
Whip cream, butter and sugar with paddle until it's of frosting consistency (it may need to be warmed some to come together). Then add flavorings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan 20 Berry Surprise Cake

I'm going to lead with the pretty picture.

I really struggled with this cake. Here's my genoise.

And here's out of the pan in case you can't see just how sunken this poor cake is.

After baking the genoise, I was debating whether to go through with the rest of the recipe or not, but figured what the heck. I used blackberries instead of raspberries, and for the syrup I subbed about six frozen berries and a tablespoon of the lemon syrup leftover from the lemon blackberry cake, and strained the berries out. The syrup was pretty and tasty. My filling did not set at all, it pooled in my cake crater. Then I gingerly frosted with the whipped cream topping. It kind of avalanched when I tried cutting a piece.

Even with all that didn't go quite right, this was a really tasty cake! Very light, the cream and berries were very nice. I'll have to try this again, and with raspberries, too.

This week's TWD recipe selected by Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen.
For next week, Heather of Sherry Trifle chose Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Maida Heatter

I love Maida Heatter's cookbooks. She is hilarious, and she has the best brownie recipes :) My favorite are the Santa Fe brownies, a brownie with a cream cheese swirl. They're kind of like black bottom cupcakes, only denser and no chocolate chips. They make a traditional 9x13 pan, but they're so tall I can only eat a couple at a time (ha!).

Like I mentioned in the marshmallow post, I don't have the best luck with swirling. And sometimes the top chocolate layer sinks through the cheesecake and other times it floats. In any case, these are very forgiving (even if they're not so pretty)!

I'm not able to find the recipe online anywhere, it's from Maida Heatter's Best Dessert Book Ever. And because I still don't understand copyright and recipes, and because you can get the book for less than $5, I'm not posting it. Instead, here's another readily available recipe of Heatter's that I'm anxious to try: polka-dot cheesecake - so fun!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jan 13 Savory Corn & Pepper Muffins

I was excited about the savory selection! I used a large jalapeno, and it was really nice, just the tiniest bit warm. Like many other TWDer's, I made these muffins to go with chili. I tried a new Spicy Vegetarian Chili (with one less can of beans) that we really liked.

Though the batter's not the prettiest thing, I had to take a picture of the peppers! In the middle of winter, I appreciate the colors more.

Thanks to Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake who selected this week's recipe. Next week is Berry Surprise Cake selected by Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lemon Blackberry Cake

I received many fantastic gifts for Christmas and birthday this year - one of them being small cake pans (4, 6and 8"). I was excited to be able to try out more flavor combos without being stuck with a huge cake.

I wanted to try Gourmet's Lemon Raspberry Wedding Cake. The cake, syrup and lemon curd I made according to the recipe. The buttercream I changes, and I subbed blackberry jam for the rasperries (not interested in the moldy fruit mentioned by a reviewer).

I started with the lemon curd for the buttercream. I've never made a lemon curd before, I was thrilled that it came together - and it tastes pretty fantastic. It's by far the best of any of the elements of this recipe. I only needed half, and the rest I've been eating with a spoon.

I'm not comfortable with italian meringue buttercream (I've read that the eggs really don't get hot enough), so I usually do swiss meringue. The frosting seemed really dense, very butter-like in texture- I guess what I should have expected in texture when adding curd to buttercream. I used the proportions they gave, minus the water and did a smbc + the lemon curd. You can even see how dense the buttercream was.

I made one batch of the cake for two 6" pans. Then stacking - cake, syrup, blackberry jam, lemon buttercream. I was having trouble with catching the jam in the buttercream, so I fridged it before trying a crumbcoat. It ended up I really didn't have enough icing, so it was just one coat.

Really, the flavors of everything were good, the textures just seemed off. The cake seemed coarse and a bit dry, even with the syrup. I really like the combination of flavors, I'll have to try another variation for the cake. I'll have to try a tart with the lemon curd, it'd give me a chance to try Dorie's sweet tart dough again!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Jan 6 French Pear Tart

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is especially exciting as it was selected by the author of Baking, Dorie Greenspan! She was generous enough to reply to TWDers' questions, and she's even baking along with the group this week - check out her beautiful tart! And then my rustic version.....

I think the pears in mine look like some kind of seafood. Especially my attempt at a 'rose'.

Anyway, I don't think I've tried making a tart before and don't have a tart pan, so I was a little anxious. I used a springform instead, which I think turned out ok. I need to try the Sweet Tart Dough again, I think I overworked the dough, it lost its "sandiness". In any case, even with my shortfalls, Boom said this was the best thing I've made in the last five years. The almond cream is very nice. I'm looking forward to trying it again as is and with apricots.

Next week: Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins selected by Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake.